Comic Books

I’ve been really into Minimates and rekindling my love for Full Moon’s old Trancers movies. So a few customs later and I’ve started making Trancers Minimate comics. Let me know if you like, there could be more “down the line”.

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Commander X All-Star Special
Commander X
All-Star Special
40 Pages
$3.99
Written and Illustrated by Jay Piscopo

Last month I mentioned the release of the Commander X All-Star Special, a new comic from the folks at Nemo Publishing. Longtime readers of Infinite Hollywood probably know that I have a soft spot for Commander X, the pulp inspired golden age hero. Jay Piscopo has a way about his work that doesn’t just seem like it’s influenced from the comics of yesteryear, but rather as if it was plucked right out of that era.

This 40 page special edition comic includes three stories and fans of the Commander will recognize these tales from other comics. That’s okay though because they’ve never looked sharper or more crisp than in this All-Star Special. This serves as a great launching point for new fans or kids who are just starting to get exposed to the world of comics. Although the Commander X stories are retro-inspired, there’s enough modern storytelling sensibility throughout that you never feel like you’re reading something that’s been dumbed down or is tongue in cheek. Because Jay keeps it old school, this comic is family friendly and safe for all ages to read. After all, it is approved by the Cosmic Code Authority!

Commander X Yeti

The first story, The Guardian of Tantaus, takes place in Tibet in 1939. If you’re a fan of Indiana Jones and old movie serials, you’ll especially get a kick out of this one. Commander X is sent into the snowy climate to stop one of his old enemies, the Red Octopus, who is working with the Nazis to trap the abominable snowman. The Commander encounters Nazis, Tibetan monks and of course, the one big ol’ mean Yeti!

You may recall that I paid tribute to this story back in 2009, with my own little Commander X Figure Comic, so this one is definitely a classic. It was great reading it again and seeing the story just seemingly leap off the page with each turn. I must admit, this is still one of my favorite Commander X stories.

Commander X, Sea Raider

The second story is called Allies and recounts the time that Commander X first met Sea Ghost, who was going by the moniker Sea Raider during World War II. This story really oozes that classic Jonny Quest, Hanna-Barbera cartoon feel and it’s also heavily influenced by the old Aquaman comics. It definitely has some art nods to Ramona Fradon and Paul Norris, while the story is a fun underwater romp that also serves to make you want to buy the Commander X Undersea Knight toy.

Commander X War-Beast

The final story, Wake of the War-Beast, is one part Godzilla movie and one part 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. Piscopo manages to weave the genres together perfectly for a highly exciting nautical adventure. While the previous story was underwater as well, this one is all about submarines and naval maneuvers. There’s also a little bit of magic, sci-fi and superstition peppered in for good measure.

All in all, the Commander X All-Star Special is a nostalgic adventure through several Commander X stories all cobbled together into one big book of awesome. I highly recommend it, especially if you’re like me and are tired of the same short modern comics where you have to buy 4-5 comics to get a complete adventure.

At $3.99 you can’t go wrong with this comic. That’s basically 10 cents per page. Not to mention that there’s some beautiful pin-ups (as always in a Nemo Publishing book) and lots of fun, simple and exciting adventures for readers young and old. You can visit the Capt’n Eli Homepage where you can order the comic direct and learn more about the world of Capt’n Eli, Commander X and Sea Ghost.

You can also ask for this book by name at your local comic shop and give them the DIAMOND CODE: AUG12122 so they can order it for their shop. Plus be on the lookout here at Infinite Hollywood, as we’re planning a special giveaway of a Commander X comic coming soon!




Gamera: Guardian of the Universe #1-#4
Dark Horse
Story by Dave Chipps
Art by Mozart Couto, Mike Sellers & Art Knight
Covers by Yuji Kaida & Mitsuaki Hashimoto

In order not to bore you to death with only figure reviews, on the third day of Gamera, I give to you… COMIC REVIEWS! Yes I’m reviewing the entire Dark Horse mini-series of Gamera: Guardian of the Universe.

Dark Horse optioned this series of comics, right around the time they were losing the Godzilla license. It was a smart move on their part, as they could test the waters with Gamera who had just seen his revival begin with the 1995 film. Unlike Toho, which forbid Dark Horse from using other Godzilla canon kaiju like Mothra or Ghidorah, Daei Studios allowed Dark Horse to use all the characters.


Dark Horse decided to cram as many monsters as they could into the 4 issue run and I suspect their hopes were that sales would be strong enough to offset the loss of Godzilla and start a regular series. Unfortunately, Gamera’s Heisei films were just starting to trickle into the market and all the storylines take place BEFORE Gamera 2: Advent of Legion. In fact, when the comic was first released, Gamera: Guardian of the Universe wasn’t quite on VHS here in the states. Sadly, this was before DVD was the norm and Gamera never got past his 4 issues.

Using classic Gamera villains, Dark Horse was able to stretch the concept and ultimately this makes a great companion piece to Trendmasters Gamera action figures. It’s a shame that these comics and those toys mostly flew under the radar of American audiences, as they offer up some nice additions to the Gamera legacy.
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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1
IDW Publishing
Story by Kevin Eastman & Tom Waltz
Art by Dan Duncan

I’ve been meaning to get around to this one since it came out last month, but finally today we’re going to take a look at IDW’s new Ninja Turtles book. A lot of people didn’t follow the Ninja Turtles comic, especially Volume #4, but I did. In fact I actually enjoyed Volume #4 more than most. When I heard IDW was going to do a new TMNT comic with Eastman on board, I was excited. Does this comic deliver?

In some ways, yes, this very much feels like a Turtles comic. That’s a good thing, because getting the “vibe” of the TMNT is as important as anything else. This comic features a series of five different covers for you who like cover variants as well. Kevin Eastman’s is clearly the best (the one pictured above) and that’s the one I’ve chosen.

I don’t want to tear into the art too much, but Eastman’s art is so much better of a fit for the TMNT than Dan Duncan’s. Duncan seems to be able to draw people okay (which is certainly more than I can say for Mirage TMNT artist Jim Lawson) but his Turtles are those strange, exaggerated freakazoids that a lot of people tend to draw the Green Machine as. I don’t much care for it myself, but by this point I’m pretty much used to reading Turtles comics with so-so art.


But enough about that… Things start off familiar enough in this IDW re-telling of the Turtles history, as we open to a showdown with a street gang. It’s much like the old Purple Dragons scene in the original (and subsequent rehashes) of the TMNT comics. However this time we see that this street gang is led by “Old Hob” a one eyed mutant cat. That sort of tips us off that this is not your Daddy’s (or Peter Laird’s) Ninja Turtles.


This is a recurring theme in the IDW book. Things are similar, but different. For the most part I can enjoy some new ideas into the Ninja Turtles books, if they retain that core TMNT feel. Adding new mutants/monsters is okay with me too, so long as it doesn’t end up too muddled with them.


We get a few clues that these Turtles have a different history in the battle with the gang, but as the comic continues to develop, we learn more, alebit not everything, about their new history. The fight scene is good and takes up a large chunk of the comic, so that’s a plus.


And although the Turtles are only given a line or two each in the entire book, there’s enough there to get the general feel of all the Turtles. Including a laugh out loud line from Mike. Of course, there’s a side story about Raphael and naturally he’s being a brooding loner and doing all that typical lame stuff that Raphael does. There’s a larger story at play here, but we don’t get the details, just that Raph is out trying to make it on his own. If only I had a dollar for every TMNT story that revolved around Raphael being a loser.


From there we head off to a flashback where we meet April O’Neil who is an intern for Baxter Stockman. She works with him, but unlike previous stories, she’s not really in the know with what’s going on. Baxter runs an entire corporation that’s working on animal testing. April thinks it’s for making better meat, while in truth it’s to create bio-weapons for the nefarious and equally mysterious “General Krang”.


We also learn in this flashback that this is where the Turtles and Splinter are. In fact, April even names the Turtles! We can only presume that the TMNT will be mutated here as well although we don’t see that process just yet. There was one interesting line about Splinter and how these scientists were doing experiments on him to make him comprehend human ideas as a rat. I suppose to explain later why he can teach the Turtles kung-fu. It’s nice that they tried to tie up that loose end, but I’m not sure I need all the other seemingly random changes in the Turtles history just for the sake of change.

Overall, the comic feels fun and it’s a nice but brief first issue. I’m interested in seeing where it goes, but I can’t help but feel like this is an “alternate world” story. I suspect that will be my main problem with this comic. It’s yet another “new” translation of the Turtles backstory and I’m not sure why we need a new concept, but at least it has the feel of the TMNT for the most part. I’ll be checking out the next couple of issues to see if things get better or worse.

COWABUNGA!


By now you may have heard that IDW has picked up the license to do Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle comics. This is great news for TMNT fans, as IDW plans on doing trades of the old Mirage stuff (something that Mirage excelled at failing to do for decades) and will be doing a variety of other comics. The most interesting news piece, being that a new IDW TMNT comic will start this summer, with a second Nickelodeon cartoon based comic starting later down the road in conjunction with Nick’s new TMNT.

With that in mind, an even cooler piece of TMNT comic news came across this past weekend as a long in production fan project has finally come together. A variety of TMNT fans with various artistic skill put together a page-by-page (with nearly every page done by a different fan) recreation of the original Mirage TMNT #1 comic. It’s a great piece and a fitting tribute to the Turtles. Peter Laird saw it and definitely approved, although he was true to form, honest in his critique of the project.

Even if you don’t like every page, credit has to be given to the labor of love that all involved gave to this. It’s such a unique take on the origin of the Turtles and it makes me wish Mirage had been able to do stuff like this for the 25th anniversary. Regardless, you can download the comic and check it out for yourself at mutantooze.org’s TMNT #1 Fan Re-mix handy PDF download. There are a few tiny errors here or there and it is pretty beholden to the original comic, but I loved it. In fact, as I had been itching to re-read the original issue #1 recently, I felt this covered that for me quite nicely and was a fresh take on an old favorite.

As someone who has in the past done his own TMNT comic takes and intends to dabble a bit again in the future, I love projects like this. Major props to all involved and here’s to more growth in the TMNT fan community in the months and years ahead. Turtle power!